Russia is pulling away from the CR929 widebody program

Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said the joint development project with China “is not going in the direction that suits us”

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said the country is moving away from the CR929 passenger widebody project, which is being developed in partnership with China.

Speaking at an engineers forum, Borisov declared that “we are working with China on this project which, in principle, is not going in the direction that suits us. China, as it becomes an industrial giant, is less and less interested in in our services.”

“But the Chinese have more needs than we have today. Our participation is decreasing and decreasing. I don’t want to predict the future of this project, if we are going to leave it or not, but for now this is really the way,” he added, according to the TASS agency.

The statement comes just days after the two countries said the CR929 program was going strong, focused on replacing Western components on the aircraft due to sanctions from the US, Europe and other allies.

The CR929 will be a two-aisle jet similar in size to an Airbus A330 or Boeing 787. The program was created in 2014 with partners United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and COMAC, which formed the Shanghai-based joint venture CRAIC.

Since then, the project has suffered setbacks. Earlier, Russia had complained that the Chinese government intended to assume responsibility for domestic sales in the country, leaving UAC with the difficult task of finding customers abroad.

In the partnership, UAC will deliver the composite wings and fuselage center section, while COMAC will produce the rest of the aerostructures and empennage.

The CR929’s engines are not defined, but Russia is further along in the design of the PD-35, its largest turbofan. China has great difficulties in developing this type of engine, as noted in another program, the C919.

Ilyushin Il-96-400M (UAC)

China self-sufficient in commercial aircraft

According to recent reports, the first test CR929 is already being assembled at a COMAC facility at Shanghai Airport. However, a realistic timeline on the project does not yet exist.

In search of solutions to the heavy Western embargoes, Russia has replanned its investment in local projects, even old ones such as the four-engine widebody Il-96.

The possible departure of Russia from the program may not mean its end. China has vast financial resources and can seek alternative suppliers despite US trade restrictions.

The Asian country, owner of the largest commercial aviation market in the world, intends to be self-sufficient in the medium term, hence the certainty that the CR929 must be kept alive, even if it is renamed “C929” in the near future.

 

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